Saturday, May 24, 2014

Y&R Report (May 24, 2014): The Latest on the Young and the Restless

Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama.  Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT:  Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet. Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance.

It's a battle for control on The Young and the Restless between two very different men with very different methods.  Victor Newman uses brutal violence to get what he wants.  He is a bully and a thug.  Ian Ward, on the other hand, is a snake-in-the-grass.  He uses psychological control to lure the vulnerable to his "path." It's a very interesting contest because Victor has never faced an adversary like Ian Ward before. The Black Knight may have finally met his match. Oh yes, the battle between Victor and Ian is also a battle of smirks. Those two are experts at smirking.  Let's call it Smirk versus Smirk.  The expressions on their faces are absolutely priceless.  I really enjoy their scenes together.

The Chloe storyline is drawing to its inevitable tragic conclusion.  Although after her talk with Kevin at the movie theatre, it appears that she will go quietly to the Fairview mental hospital, it will not be that easy. One viewer, Fifi from Collingwood, Ontario, thinks that Chloe will discover that Victoria is pregnant.  She will assume that Billy is the father (we don't know yet) and go berserk.  She may harm Victoria or cause her to have a miscarriage.  Well, Fifi, we'll see if your theory is correct.

Princess Victoria Newman is in a dire crisis.  Her friendly doctor is there to help or hinder her (depending on your point of view).  The enigmatic Dr. Ben Rayburn is always ready to offer medical advice and a shoulder to cry on.  
What is Dr. Stitch'em Up's deep, dark secret, though?  Kelly knows and she claims that he "killed" a man.  Was it in cold blood?  Was it in self-defence?  Was it accidental?  Was it intentional?  Was it medical malpractice? We will soon find out . . . I hope.

I don't think that the good doctor is so good at all.  He's definitely not a paragon of virtue, nor is he a as devoted a medical practitioner as he appears to be.  Nobody's perfect, but this guy really has a dark side. Whatever he's hiding, it's something very nasty and it could ruin his reputation.  Perhaps he's trying to conceal it from the police or else he'll have to go to prison. Perhaps he'll lose his license to practice medicine.  At any rate, he's determined to keep it hidden and his wife, Jenna, left him over it.  Two women are disgusted with his past actions.  

I also think Dr. Stitch is a pushy guy.  Not that the Princess is completely blameless but he is pushing his way into her life at a time when she's confused and vulnerable.  He is taking advantage of her vulnerability and he's very intrusive.  He had the gall to look at her private medical records.  By the way, isn't it amazing how easily soap characters are able to gain access to hospital files or switch test results or steal someone's medical samples?

How did you like that big romantic scene between Cricket and Paul?  Paul seems as clueless about romance as he is about police work.  The Cricketmeister had the candles and music out and she wanted some attention. The Genoa City police chief was completely oblivious.  All he could do was blather on and on about Ian Ward and Dylan and Victor.  I must say, he seems more attentive to Nikki than his own wife. Whenever Nikki calls, he always drops his highly questionable police work and goes running to her side.

What's the deal, Neil?  Are you going to sacrifice everything for the sake of Hillary?  I wonder, though, is Hillary trustworthy or does she have an agenda. Are her feelings for Neil sincere? Has this leopard changed her spots?  It seems she's also harbouring an attraction for Devon.  If he expresses his true feelings for her, will she be able to resist?  I don't think so.  What do you think, fans?


SP from British Columbia says

Lily should let her father, Neil, make his own decisions and accept the consequences.  However, that would nullify the conflict between them and ruin the story.

You are right, SP.  Lily is crossing the line, even though Neil's behaviour leaves something to be desired.  


Big news!  A new Phyllis has been chosen to replace Michelle Stafford.  She is two-time Daytime Emmy winner Gina Tognoni, a former star on One Life to Live and The Guiding Light.  Gina played Kelly Cramer on OLTL and Dianh Marler on GL.  Now she takes on the plum role of the scheming redhead (She's probably going to have to dye her hair red to play the part).

Since Gina is scheduled to be seen on the show this summer, we know that it won't be too long before Phyllis comes out of her coma.  That means big trouble for Sharon and for Kelly.  As for Jack, he is going to be caught between Phyllis and Kelly.  Will he remain loyal to Phyllis or stick with Kelly?

Gina Tognoni

Dr. Stitch 'em Up's ex-wife, Jenna, will be showing up in Genoa City.  Newcomer Stephanie Lemelin has been cast in the role.  She will make her first appearance on June 13 on CBS and on June 12 on Global in Canada.  Get ready to see the doctor squirm!

Here's some breaking news.  Daytime Confidential has reported that David Tom has been let go as Billy Abbott.  He will be replaced by another  newcomer to daytime television.  The new Billy Abbott is . . . drum roll, please . . . Burgess Jenkins.  Jenkins has a recurring role as Randy Roberts in the TV series Nashville and he was a regular in Season 7 of the Lifetime drama, Army Wives.  He portrayed Staff Sgt. Eddie Hall on Army Wives.

Burgess Jenkins
                                                                      Photo Attribution:  JJackman

The firing of David Tom is not entirely surprising.  Fan reaction to him has not been positive at all.  He's really just started in the role of Billy and hasn't had the opportunity to grow into it. Certainly Billy Miller is a far better actor and had much better chemistry with Amelia Heinle (Victoria).  David Tom, unfortunately for him, has been constantly compared to Miller and that has been a lot to live up to.  Tom never really had a chance. Disappointed Billy Miller fans have been quite hard on him.

What does David Tom's firing mean for the show?  Well, apparently, the character of Billy is being taken in a new direction . . .whatever that means.  Anyway, good luck to Burgess Jenkins.  I hope his tenure as Billy Abbott is longer and more successful than David Tom's.


Leslie:  What is your end game?  What do you want?
Ian Ward:  Well, you'll have to wait till the end to find out.

Nikki:  Victor, you can't take the law into your own hands.
Victor:  I wouldn't have to if Paul Williams did his job.

Billy's comment on the sparring match between Stitch and Victor in the gym:

"I'm hoping for a double knockout."


How do you feel about Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe) leaving Y&R? free polls 

Don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear on Saturday, June 7, 2014.  Enjoy what's left of the May sweeps.

- Joanne

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Natalie Wood on Television

Above is a 1961 publicity photo of Natalie Wood.  It was used by Warner Brothers to promote the film Splendor in the Grass in which Natalie starred opposite a young Warren Beatty.  Although a great star of the silver screen - Natalie is also known for her roles in Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), West Side Story (1961) . Love with the Proper Stranger (1963) and Bob &Carol, Ted & Alice (1969) - the actress did some worthy television work too.

Recently I viewed a DVD entitled The Jack Benny Program: The Lost Episodes and I came across an episode featuring Natalie and Robert Wagner as Jack's special guest stars.  The couple portrayed themselves in the episode (Season 10, Episode 12).which aired on March 6, 1960.  Natalie had married Wagner for the first time on December 28, 1957 when she just 19 years old.  (She was 21 when she appeared on on The Jack Benny Program).

In the episode, Jack cajoles CBS executives into allowing him to direct an episode of Playhouse 90. the network  highly regarded drama series.  Natalie and "R.J." (for Robert John) Wagner turn out to be the unfortunate stars who are forced to endure his outrageous directorial demands.   Unable to stand Benny's nonsense any longer, the crew walk out, leaving Jack literally hanging from a microphone boom.

Wood and Wagner on The Jack Benny Program

I enjoyed the Jack Benny episode and it gave me the incentive to delve deeper into Natalie Wood's life and her career on television.  Natalie was born Natalia Nikolaevna Zacharenko on July 20, 1938 in San Francisco, California.  She was the daughter of Russian immigrants.  Her father, Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko, was a carpenter and he later became a studio set designer.  He changed the family name to "Gurdin" upon becoming an American citizen.  A younger sister, Svetlana (born March, 1 1946) also became an actress and is known by her stage name, Lana Wood.

Natalie's family moved to Santa Rosa, California soon after she was born.  They eventually settled in Los Angeles so that Natalie, whom they called Natasha (the diminutive for Natalia), could pursue a film career. She was cast in her first film role at the age of four in the 1943 movie Happy Land when a production company came to Santa Rosa.  It was only a small role as a crying little girl, but it was enough to encourage the Gurdens to move south to L.A.

Once in Hollywood, Natalie was given her first credited role in the 1946 film Tomorrow is Forever. co-starring Claudette Colbert, Orson Welles and George Brent. That same year, she also starred alongside Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Cummings in a romantic comedy, The Bride Wore Boots.  Then came the role that made her a child star, that of Susan Walker, the little girl who didn't believe in Santa Claus, in 1947's Miracle on 34th Street.  As an eight-year-old, Natalie and co-stars Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Edmund Gwenn captured the hearts of filmgoers in this timeless Yuletide classic and she went on to make a number of movies during her childhood.

When Natalie Wood was about 15 years old, she was cast in her first recurring role in a television series, a half-hour situation comedy called The Pride of the Family.  The Pride of the Family aired on ABC from 1953 to 1954 and there were only 40 episodes of the show.  It starred Paul Hartman as Albie Morrison,, a bumbling husband and father, who worked in the advertising department of a small town newspaper.  Fay Wray, of King Kong fame, portrayed his wife, Catherine Morrison, while Natalie played 15-year-old daughter, Ann Morrison, and Bobby Hyatt played their 14-year-old son, Junior.  Below is a photo of the cast of The Pride of the Family.

Bobby Hyatt, Fay Wray, Paul Hartman and Natalie Wood

Here is some trivia about The Pride of the Family:

Paul Hartman went on to play Emmett Clark, owner of a fix-it store, on The Andy Griffith Show.and Mayberry R.F.D. during the late 1960s.  From 1968 to 1969, he also portrayed Bert Smedley on Petticoat Junction.  Hartman died of a heart attack on October 2, 1973.

Robert "Bobby" Hyatt had a small, uncredited role in Miracle on 34th Street, the Christmas classic that made Natalie a star.  Hyatt died on September 27, 2007 of cancer.  He was 67 years old.  Canadian-born Fay Wray passed away on August 8, 2004 at the age of 96.

Below is a photo of Natalie Wood and Tom Bernard in a scene from The Pride of the Family.  Bernard played Tom in two 1954 episodes of the sitcom.

After The Pride of the Family, Natalie appeared in four episodes of a short-lived series called Mayor of the Town.  It was a syndicated show that aired from 1954 to 1955.  Mayor of the Town chronicled the life of Thomas Russell, mayor of the small community of Springdale.  Oscar winner Thomas Mitchell played the title role and Natalie portrayed a character named June.

During the 1950s, Natalie's television work included a role in an episode of the crime/drama series Public Defender starring Reed Hadley.  In an episode entitled "Return of the Dead" (Season 2, Episode, Air Date: September 9, 1954), she played Renee Marchand, a teenager who is accused of attempted murder.  She also made two appearances in the drama anthology Studio 57. as Sheila Mason in "The Plot Against Miss Pomeroy" (Season 1, Episode 5, Air Date: October 1, 1954) and in "Little Miss Bedford" (Season 3, Episode 33, Air Date June 9, 1957).  Her co-stars in "Little Miss Bedford: were Hugh Cronyn and Jessica Tandy.

Natalie and Robert Wagner separated in 1961 and divorced in April of 1962.  On May 30, 1969, Natalie wed Richard Gregson, a British film producer.  She and Gregson had a daughter named Natasha Gregson, born on September 29, 1970.  The coupled separated in 1971 and formerly divorced in April of 1972.

After breaking up with Richard Gregson, Natalie resumed her relationship with Robert Wagner, whom she remarried on July 16, 1972.  She and Wagner had a daughter, Courtney Brooke Wagner, born on March 9, 1974.  R.J. also adopted Natalie's other daughter, Natasha.

Wood and Wagner in 1975

During the 1970s, Natalie Wood made two cameo appearances on the TV detective series Switch, starring husband Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert.  She had an uncredited part as a cruise ship passenger in an episode of the series entitled "The Cruise Ship Passenger" (Season 1, Episode 9, Air Date: November 11, 1975) and she played "the girl in the bubble bath" in an episode called "The Cage" (Season 3, Episode 20, Air Date: June 25, 1978).

In 1973, Natalie and Robert Wagner starred in a made-for-TV movie called The Affair. Natalie played Courtney Patterson, a disabled songwriter and Wagner portrayed Marcus Simon, a lawyer who falls in love with her, although Courtney's family is opposed to their relationship.  The Affair originally aired on November 20, 1973.

In 1976, Natalie took on the role of Margaret "Maggie the Cat" in a television adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  Robert Wagner portrayed Maggie's husband, Brick, and the star-studded cast included the great Laurence Olivier as Big Daddy and Maureen Stapleton as Big Mama. Despite its stellar cast, the production only received mixed reviews.

Natalie also appeared in a cameo role as a movie star in the pilot film for Hart to Hart, Wagner's hit television series in which he starred with Stefanie Powers.  The pilot aired on August 25, 1979 and Natalie was credited as Natasha Gurdin.

Natalie in Hart to Hart pilot

Natalie Wood won a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Actress for her performance in a 1979 television remake of the 1953 film From Here to Eternity, based on the 1951 novel  by James Jones. Natalie portrayed Karen Holmses in the 6-hour TV mini-series, the role made famous by Deborah Kerr in the movie.  Her co-star was William Devane. Devane played Sgt. Milton Warden, the Burt Lancaster role. Natalie's character, Karen Holmes, with whom Sgt. Warden has an affair, is the wife of Warden's commanding officer.  The sweeping mini-series originally aired on ABC beginning on February 14, 1979.

Paul Michael Glaser and Natalie with Golden Globe  

In 1979, Natalie also starred in a television movie called The Cracker Factory.  She played the lead role of Cassie Barrett, an alcoholic housewife in suburban Cleveland who has a nervous breakdown and drifts in and out of psychiatric wards.  The Cracker Factory is based on a best-selling 1977 novel by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt.  It was broadcast on ABC on March 16, 1979.

Natalie's life ended in tragedy on November 29, 1981.  She was 43 years old when she drowned near Catalina Island California during a trip aboard her yacht, the Splendour, with Robert Wagner.  At the time of her death, she was working on a science film called Brainstorm with co-star Christopher Walken, who was also aboard the yacht with Wood and Wagner.

A re-investigation into the circumstances of Natalie's death began in 2011 after the yacht's captain, Dennis Darvin, claimed he overheard an argument between Natalie and R.J.on the night of her disappearance and blamed Wagner for her death.   In January of 2013, coroner's officials released a new report that explained the reasons why and the word "accidental" was removed from Natalie's death certificate and changed to "drowning and other undetermined factors."  Investigators apparently couldn't rule out that some of the bruises and marks on her body occurred before she entered the water.

There have been many rumours, conflicting versions and much speculation regarding Natalie's demise, particularly where Wagner and Walken are concerned.  However, no criminal charges have laid to date with regard to the case.  In his 2008 autobiography, Pieces of My Heart, Robert Wagner stated that he and Christopher Walken had argued that night.  He wrote that he had stayed up for awhile, but when he went to bed, Natalie and a dinghy that had been attached to the yacht had vanished.


* Natalie Wood's daughter, Natasha,, known as Natasha Gregson Wagner, is now 43 years old.  She is an actress.  Her first film role was in the 1992 film Fathers & Sons and she had a small part as Cassandra in the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Natasha also played the role of Tibby in the 1995 Hart to Hart TV movie, Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Hart.

After a lengthy relationship with Joshua Evans, son of Ali MacGraw and producer Robert Evans, Natasha married D.V. DeVincentis in 2003.  The couple divorced in 2008.  On May 30, 2012, Gregson Wagner and her partner, actor Barry Watson, became the parents of a daughter, Clover Clementyne Watson - Natalie's granddaughter.

Natasha Gregson Wagner

* In April of 2012, Natalie's younger daughter, Courtney, was arrested for cocaine and heroine possession after police investigated a report of gunshots coming from her residence in Malibu, California.

* Robert Wagner, born February 10, 1930, is now 84 years old.  He has been married to actress Jill St. John since 1990.

- Joanne

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Y&R Report:(May 10, 2014): The Latest on the Young and the Restless

Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama.  Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT:  Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet. Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance.

Well fans, there is a lot to talk about.  The identity of Mariah has finally been revealed.  She is the fake Cassie and she is connected to the ubiquitous Ian Ward. That man is everywhere and he is involved in everything.  The only person in Genoa City who may be able to bring Ward down is Victor Newman, The Big Man himself.  I think that the cunning former cult leader will turn out to be The Big Man's greatest challenge to date.  Don't count on Clueless Paul Williams to be any kind of a match for the slippery Ward.

I was certainly surprised when the Cassie look-alike was revealed to be Mariah.  If Y&R's intention was to surprise, the show certainly succeeded in that respect.  Yet. one important question remains unanswered. Why do Cassie and Mariah resemble each other so much?  I still think they will turn out to be identical twins and that Sharon is actually Mariah's mother.  A viewer, Fifi from Collingwood, Ontario, suggested to me that Ian Ward somehow took Mariah away from Sharon and gained control of her.  Sharon, of course, had no knowledge that she had given birth to two babies.  She always believed that Cassie was her only daughter. This would explain Mariah's connection to the conniving Ian Ward.

Speaking of that snake-in-the-grass, I have to say I've been quite impressed by actor Ray Wise's performance in the role.  His portrayal is truly frightening.  When Ian walks into a room, I can feel a chill go down my spine.  Kudos to Ray Wise for some excellent acting.  Just look at the expression on his face in the photo below.  It's priceless!

Ray Wise

I have never been a fan of the Chloe character and I was not disappointed to learn that Elizabeth Hendrickson, her portrayer, has decided to bid farewell to Y&R.  As far as I'm concerned, Chloe can not leave town fast enough.  Her latest antics have been disgusting and her determination to recreate Delia by having another child with Billy is absolutely nauseating.  As for Billy Boy, he was quite reckless to put himself in a situation where Chloe was almost able to take advantage of him.  He's very fortunate that he fell into a deep sleep.  I only hope that Elizabeth Hendrickson is not replaced by a new actress and that Chloe is mercifully written out of the show.

Billy Boy's estranged wife, Princess Victoria, seems quite discombobulated these days.  I've never seen her so confused and indecisive.  So now we have the "Who's the Daddy?" scenario.  Is it Billy or Dr. Stich'em up?  Does the Princess really think she can keep her pregnancy a secret?  Chelsea and Stitch already know. Somehow, I think Billy will be the last one to find out.

Even if it's only temporary, it's great to have the old sweet Sharon back, the Sharon we knew before the writers ruined her character.  I enjoyed those flashback scenes when she and Nick were so young.  The writers should have had her diagnosed as Bipolar much sooner so we could have had a plausible explanation for her behaviour.

A big UGH to the affair between Neil and Hilary.  I can't stand the way Neil has been acting.  He's been behaving like an overaged teenager.  I hope he is discovered soon.  Is everyone so dense that they can't figure out what's going on?  How long can they keep this a secret from Devon and Lily?

Although I really like the chemistry between Jill and the Australian Cary Grant, the writers have made this storyline drag on far too long.  The music box mystery should have been solved much sooner.  Most viewers don't even care about it now.  The writers really need to tie up the loose ends.


From our regular contributor, CC in Etobicoke:

First Delia, then Adam, and now the writers are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.....what a ludicrous storyline.....the fake Cassie is Mariah?!!!!

We've seen it all!
Tyler and Mariah must have been a real Bonnie and Clyde couple back in their L.A. days!

Plus, it is a good thing Nick is not evil like his father or he might kill Victor especially after he finds out that Victor is urging Sharon to put the brakes on rekindled relationship with Nick.

Well, CC, I have to admit I was quite surprised when the Cassie impersonator turned out to be Mariah.  I didn't see that coming at all.  Camryn Grimes, who plays the fake Cassie, doesn't look tough enough to be any kind of a criminal, never mind part of a Bonnie and Clyde couple with Tyler.  That's why I never associated the Cassie look-alike with Mariah.

Victor will never stop interfering in the lives of his children.  He always has an excuse and he always claims he will be proven right.  His latest excuse is that he has to take control in order to protect his family.


As most of you have heard, Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers Newman) has joined the cast of General Hospital as Nina Clay.  The news is disappointing to fans of The Young and the Restless.  Many of us had hoped that she would eventually return to the show.  Alas, it is not to be.  Y&R has put out a casting call for a new Phyllis which describes the character thusly: "Phyllis is beautiful, smart and conniving. She is confident in her own sexuality and is unafraid to use it to get what she wants. She knows she has power over men and many times has used it, both to her benefit and to her detriment. She definitely has an edge." Hmmm . . . it doesn't say anything about red hair, although I can't imagine Phyllis as not being a red-head.

So why did Michelle leave Y&R?  What's the story?  Well, in an online interview, Michelle stated that she didn't just leave the show to do The Stafford Project.  She declared that she left the show for many reasons some too personal and private to ever reveal publicly.  However, Michelle feels that after all these years, she has taken the Phyllis character far enough.  She wants new challenges.  I can understand that but I think there is much more to the story.  There is something rotten in Genoa City or why would so many actors be choosing to leave the show?


Here's another reminder that Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman) will be appearing at the casino at the Woodbine Racetrack tomorrow, Mother's Day.  She will be there from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

That's all for now.  There should be much ahead as the May sweeps continue.  Don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will be posted on Saturday, May 24, 2014.

- Joanne